Unpacking My Library
deluxe promotional edition
Unpacking My Library
Unpacking My Library
abridged edition [Norway]
with 11 of the 17 tracks
The second full-length album from Kevin Barker's Currituck Co. Kevin was in Teen-Beat band Aden and now performs under his own name.
Kevin Wai Kwong Barker, vocals, guitar, drums,
banjo, melodica, et cetera
Terrence J. Black, baritone guitar solo on 5
Eddie Carlson, upright bass on 3, 10, 12, 15, 16
Mark Greenberg, bass guitar, electric piano,
melodica, vibraphone, et cetera
Christopher M. Sienko, tabla on 13
Ruth E. Welte, violin on 16
at Mayfair, Chicago, Illinois, USA
MIXED AND MASTERED BY
at King Size, Chicago, Illinois, USA
with Mark Robinson, Teen-Beat Graphica
The final track, "Outroduction," was performed by The Mayfair Melodica Trio of Greater Chicago Illinois.
A Death Rattle of the West Production. (DR-04).
From the booklet interior: "Please listen to Mississippi John Hurt, I'm serious."
"Unpacking My Library is the first country rock album in 30 years. That is, if the point of country rock isn't for rockers to put on funny accents and pretend to be drunk and bittersweet, but to try and make something new out of those beautiful alien worlds locked away in dead white people's records. Currituck County don't sing one word about booze, but their songs are lit by the shining notes of steel-stringed guitars and the lightning rhythms of banjos so fast they drone. And as gentle and funny as it is, Unpacking My Library is dark, sometimes almost black, with a sense of lost time and impossible things. But the very loneliest moments of a song like "Henry" are detonated with insane pop hooks and a mesmerizing Bluegrass riff--as indulgently sweet as a hard cry, without any stains.
Currituck County's mentors--John Fahey, Bert Jansch, The Byrds --were collectors who worked alchemy with traditional music. For them, tradition wasn't sterile or cute. It was a seductive force, something at once homespun and exotic that could take you to a universe richer and deeper than ours, or just get you hopelessly lost. It's no accident that Fahey--the mad record collector who used his thousands of lost 78's to invent his own guitar style--wrote an autobiography called How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life. Yet in Currituck County's hands this sad, faraway music feels close-up and welcoming.
Kevin Barker's vocals have a conversational intimacy you could compare to Elliot Smith or Townes Van Zandt; on songs like "Concrete" and "Nightmares" he's alternatingly ghostly and sweet. The spare, deadpan voice contrasts starkly with the sumptuousness of his music, playful arrangements flawlessly produced and backed up by Mark Greenberg (the Coctails, Archer Prewitt). But what makes Unpacking My Library completely distinctive is the guitar. It's played by Kevin Barker, who contributes Television-esque melodies to Jeff Gramm's dry, thoughtful songwriting in Aden. Here it's something entirely new: British folk hooks out of Bridget St. John or Nick Drake; fluid, hypnotic fingerpicking so delicate you'd be afraid it would blow away, til you hear the deliberate slownesses, jarring overlaps and bright chimes. Currituck County aren't bogged down by their influences--they turn a deep sense of what's come before them into something private and surreal that's also accessible and beautiful."
"There's a lot to like about this urban hillbilly/post-modern folk album with its odd Americana-jazz-indie instrumentation and compelling lyrics ("Her spit tasted warm like from [sic] blood from my busted [sic] lip," sings a Beck-via-Donovan voice in car-crash song The Collision: "I couldn't help but feel I'm free at last"). Kevin Barker of Aden's solo debut mixes gentleness, vomit, disaffection and love as niftily as it does guitar, banjo and vibes. Where Is My Friend? could be the new-millennial Help Me Make It Through The Night."
- Sylvie Simmons, Mojo
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
[out of six stars]
"Sometimes guitar players step out of the shadows and reveal themselves to be kick-ass frontment= on solo acoustic excursions (think Elliott Smith). Judging from the quality of Aden guitarist Kevin Barker's recent full-length debut, it's nonly a matter of time before Currituck County becomes his primary musical outlet. The ridiculously intricate fingerpicked grooves found here sound like the result of serious hours spent honing expert musical chops, but Barker's guitar never strays into the terrain of technical showboating because all the skills are in service of great songs. Although lacking a conventionally pleasing voice, Barker gets the job done by focusing on instrumentation, frequently tacking on cool slide guitar overdubs or jaunty banjos to his sly brand of folk-pop."
- Rob van Alstyne, D.I.W.
March 18, 2002
52 minutes, 51 seconds
Full-colour O-card slip-case printed on coated stock.
full-colour 4-page folder and tray card printed on semi-gloss stock (one side colour and one side black and white).
with colourless transparent tray.
brown and metallic gold ink.
Riddle, Beaverton, Oregon, USA.
Failsafe, Illinois, USA.
A small run of promotional-only deluxe editions were silkscreened and hand-crafted by Kevin Barker and sent to members of the press.
- a cardboard book
- fabric binding
- silkscreened dustjacket
- compact disc with slipcover
- 40-page booklet
Norwegian label Trust Me issed an abridged edition of the album with 11 of the 17 tracks in a jewel case with no slip cover and modified cover art.